Top leaders of Ho Chi Minh City have presented the city’s business opportunities to Japanese officials and enterprises in Japan, asserting that the Vietnamese metropolis is ready to receive a new investment influx from the East Asian country.
The Ho Chi Minh City delegation, led by Party chief Dinh La Thang, began a ten-day visit to Japan on Thursday and dedicated the second day of their trip to discussions on investment chances and cooperation with Japanese leaders and businesses.
On Friday, secretary Thang and Ho Chi Minh City deputy chairman Le Thanh Liem held four separate meetings with leaders from Japan’s Cabinet Office, the foreign and infrastructure ministries, the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) and several enterprises, where they talked the attractive investment opportunities the Vietnamese megacity is offering.
Spacious room for investment
Thang told the Japanese hosts that Ho Chi Minh City is improving its business environment, adding that 95 public-private partnership (PPP) projects worth a combined US$5.6 billion are being prepared to lure foreign investors.
The Ho Chi Minh City delegation is expected to focus on discussing and studying experience from Japan on the PPP scheme during the trip.
In response, Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Keiichi Ishii said one of the biggest challenges of the PPP model is that a road developed under this scheme is used by a few vehicles once completed.
The Japanese minister said this will discourage Japanese investors fom joining in PPP projects in Vietnam, and questioned if Ho Chi Minh City has any mechanism to address this issue.
Thang replied by asserting that such a risk posed by the PPP model is not really an issue for Vietnam, where there are only around two million cars given a population of 91 million.
There number of personal vehicles is expected to rise in the future, the Ho Chi Minh City leader, who used to be a transport minister, said.
“When I was the transport minister, the traffic flows on many projects were 20-30 percent higher than expected,” Thang said.
“Some toll roads have been able to recoup investment faster than scheduled.”
Upon learning of the example of the Long Thanh-Dau Giay expressway, whose actual traffic flow Thang said is more than 50 percent higher than estimated, the Japanese minister said it is an analysis worth noticing.
Japanese enterprises may find this a big motivation for them to expand investment in Vietnam, Keiichi Ishii said.
Japan to become Ho Chi Minh City’s leading investor
In the meeting with the Keidanren leaders and nearly 100 business representatives, Liem, the city’s deputy chairman, expressed his belief that Japan will become the top foreign investor in Ho Chi Minh City.
Liem said his strong belief is grounded on the policies meant to create an open investment environment for foreign investors, particularly those from Japan.
In the first quarter of this year, Japan has jumped from the sixth place to be the fourth largest investor of the Vietnamese megacity, Liem said.
The deputy chairman credited the growth to a number of successful meetings and discussions between the city’s and Japan’s leaders, as well as between Vietnamese and Japanese businesses.
Keidanren senior managing director Satoshi Mukuta replied to Liem by asserting that all Japanese enterprises share one view that Ho Chi Minh City is the most important investment destination in Vietnam.
Satoshi said from Ho Chi Minh City, Japanese companies can look for opportunities to expand to the southern economic region as well as the entire country.
The Keidanren official also hailed the improved investment environment of Ho Chi Minh City, saying the city is growing attractive to Japanese enterprises.